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April 15, 2014

Medication and other toxic products: Keeping our kids safe from poisoning!

Canadian poison control centres receive some 70,000 calls annually about incidents involving children under the age of 6. Seven children under 14 die from poisoning every year and another 1,700 are hospitalized for this reason.

Main culprits of accidental poisoning

Medication is the leading cause of poisoning in children, ahead of cleaning and other household products. While 98 percent of parents agree that drugs should be kept under lock and key, half of them store their drugs in an unlocked medicine cabinet.

Other common substances considered toxic include cosmetics (perfume, after-shave, shampoo, nail polish remover, etc.). These should also be stored out of children’s sight and reach.

How to poison-proof your home

Parents should keep in mind that even small amounts of adult medication or vitamins can be dangerous, even fatal to children. Here are some safety measures that need to be taken.

  • Immediately lock away all drugs as soon as you return from the drugstore.
  • Never compare medication to candy.
  • Keep drugs in their original containers. Not only do they have childproof caps, they also help children identify dangerous drugs more easily than containers used for edible products.
  • Regularly clean out your medicine cabinet and return any unused or expired medications to your pharmacist.
  • Pay special attention to purses, carry-on bags and luggage, since people tend to carry medications in them.

What to do in a poisoning emergency

Despite our best efforts at prevention, incidents can still occur. If you notice that your child has ingested a potentially toxic product, you must stay calm. Getting worked up will not help you make the right decisions.

Dos and don’ts

  • Do not attempt to make your child vomit.
  • Do not try to neutralize the poison with milk. This is a myth!
  • If the poison is a liquid or a powder, flush the child’s mouth with water (try to make sure the child does not swallow the water).
  • Call the Québec Poison Control Centre at 1 800 463-5060 as soon as possible.

The ingestion of toxic products is not the only form of poisoning. In all situations, however, the number one rule is to stay calm. Here are some additional instructions that may be helpful in specific poisoning cases.

A toxic product has splashed in your child’s eyes

  • Hold eyelids open with fingers, while flushing eyes with lukewarm running water (or if child is too young, use a glass). Do this for 15 minutes.
  • Contact the Québec Poison Control Centre at 1 800 463-5060 as soon as possible.

A toxic product has splashed on your child’s skin

  • Take off all clothing covering the contact area.
  • Flush the contact area with lukewarm running water, for at least 15 minutes.
  • Do not apply cream, bandages or any other product before calling the Poison Control Centre.
  • Contact the Québec Poison Control Centre at 1 800 463-5060 as soon as possible.

Your child has inhaled a toxic product or gas

  • To be effective in first aid, you must avoid breathing in the toxic fumes yourself.
  • Move the victim as far away as possible from the toxic product or fumes – if possible to a well-ventilated area.
  • Contact the Québec Poison Control Centre at 1 800 463-5060 as soon as possible.
  • If the victim is unconscious, is not breathing or has no pulse, call 911. If you know CPR, begin giving it.

Pharmacy services

Did your child ingest a medicine not meant for children? Worried about the possible interactions among various medications your child is taking? Your pharmacist can give you the information you need and, if necessary, direct you to the appropriate resources. Just ask!

Services in pharmacy are the sole responsibility of pharmacist-owners. Only pharmacists are responsible for pharmacy practice. They only provide related services acting under a pharmacist-owner's name.

The Website deals with health-related topics. The information presented has been validated by experts and is accurate at the time of posting. In no way does it replace the opinion of a health care professional. Uniprix Inc. and its affiliated pharmacists accept no liability whatsoever in connection with the information provided on this Website.